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Photo of Saint Astier

Visit Saint Astier

Between Mussidan and Perigueux on the River Isle is the village of Saint Astier. The village began in the 7th century when the hermit Asterius gave his name to the place.

Explore Saint-Astier

Asterius was born nearby at Neuvic sur l'Isle and he studied in a monastery at Angouleme where he said an angel appeared to him and told him to go home and 'spread the word'. Asterius became a hermit on a hillside near to Saint Astier.

One day he healed a lady who had a chappel and a house built for him and his disciples as a thank you. As his reputation grew pilgrims came and many settled in the valley next to the river and this became the village of Saint Astier.

Saint Astier high street

The original village was destroyed by Vikings in 849 and rebuilt the following century. The remains of Saint Astier which had been buried close to his hermitage where moved to the new church.

There is a statue of Saint Astier in one of the small squares near the church. This statue is in bronze and was erected in 1901 to replace a stone statue which had fallen into ruins.

The village has a pleasant centre, spreading out from the church, with some colombage (half-timber) houses and some Renaissance houses. Walk down Rue de la Fontaine to see the best of the colombage houses. At the bottom of Rue de la Fontaine is the Maison Labidoire which was part of the 13th century fortified wall and has now been converted into the tourist office.

Amazingly there was once another street of tall houses between this street and the church. The road was so narrow that inhabitants could shake hands from their window with neighbours across the street. This row of houses was removed in 1898.

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The church was built in 1013 on the site of a previous church and extended in the 15th century. On either side of the side-door of the church are some Romanesque bas reliefs which pre date the church and are thought to have come from the previous church.

Inside the church is an imposing baroque organ and regular concerts are held throughout the year.

Place de la Victoire on the side of the church used to be the graveyard and now has an usual war memorial whose top is in the shape of the Poilu helmets worn by French soldiers in World War One.

The lovely Renaissance building in the main photo above is found on the Place Gambetta. This is the former Chapter House and its corbeled turret was once used as a meeting room. The window of the turret is decorated with a scallop shell, symbol of the Camino de Compostela pilgrimage whose Vezelay route goes through the town.

Next to the Chapter House is the arched entrance to the town which was part of the town defences. Next to this you can see the very narrow Rue Daumesnil typical of medieval times. Through the gateway is the Place de la Republique where you can see the large indoor market hall which was once used for grain storage.

If you are looking to eat out in Saint Astier then Thursday evening in July and August is a good one to choose as the restaurants around the Place d'Eglise get together every summer to organise a concert that you can listen to whilst sitting outside the restaurants to enjoy your meal.

If you are looking for a nice picnic spot wander down to the river edge where there are benches with attractive views over the river and its weir and stone bridge. This area is very pretty. Cross over the river and you get some of the best views of the village.

Market day in St Astier is Thursday. This is the best day to see Saint-Astier at its most animated and most colourful. At various times of the year the Thursday morning market incorporates a truffle market and a foie-gras market.

Saint Astier

At Saint-Astier, the large network of underground lime quarries can be explored on a guided tour.

Places to visit nearby

The small town of Neuvic is nearby with its chateau - the Chateau Mellet - and botanic garden which can be visited.

The nearby 16th century Chateau de Puyferrat can be visited in the summer for a guided tour by the owner. The chateau is an attractive one in with pointy roofs and fine woodwork. From here you get good views over Saint Astier and the surrounding countryside. The chateau is 2km from the centre of Saint-Astier.

Perigueux is the capital of the Dordogne department and is a wonderful town with a charming medieval centre and a number of Roman remains.

See also: 

Photos of Saint Astier

Click any picture to start the gallery

  • centre
  • centre1
  • church-bas-reliefs
  • church
  • maison-labidoire
  • market-halle
  • place-de-la-victoire
  • place-saint-astier
  • river-bridge
  • riverside
  • riverside1

Map of Saint Astier and places to visit

 
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Saint Astier places to visit

Saint Germain du Salembre

Saint Germain du Salembre

Saint Germain de Salembre is a small village with an attractive private chateau in the centre.

Saint Germain du Salembre guide
Neuvic

Neuvic

Neuvic is home to the Chateau de Neuvic which is open to visits in the summer.

Neuvic guide
Isle River

Isle River

The Isle river passes through some of the Dordogne's quieter villages and countryside.

Isle River guide
Chancelade Abbey

Chancelade Abbey

Chancelade Abbey is an attractive abbey close to Perigueux.

Chancelade Abbey guide
Issac

Issac

Issac is a small village with a pretty church at its centre.

Issac guide
Perigueux

Perigueux

Perigueux is a stunning town with a medieval centre and roman remains.

Perigueux guide
 
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